Major multinational food and beverage companies and informal sector contributions to global food consumption: implications for nutrition policy

Global Health. 2011 Aug 1;7:26. doi: 10.1186/1744-8603-7-26.


Background: In recent years, 10 major multinational food and beverage companies have worked together within the International Food and Beverage Alliance (IFBA) to increase their commitments to public health. Current IFBA commitments include initiatives to improve the nutrition quality of products and how these products are advertised to children. The impact and magnitude of IFBA member contributions to the total market share of packaged foods and beverages consumed remain incompletely understood, however.

Methods: In order to evaluate this impact, we examined packaged food and soft drink company shares provided by Euromonitor, an international independent market analysis company. Packaged foods include baby food, bakery, canned/preserved food, chilled/processed food, confectionery, dairy, dried processed food, frozen processed food, ice cream, meal replacement, noodles, oils and fats, pasta, ready meals, sauces, dressings and condiments, snack bars, soup, spreads, and sweet and savoury snacks. Soft drinks include carbonates, packaged fruit/vegetable juice, bottled water, functional drinks, concentrates, ready-to-drink tea, ready-to-drink coffee and Asian specialty drinks. We calculated the market shares for IFBA companies, globally and within nine countries--the US, China, India, Egypt, South Africa, Brazil, Mexico, Turkey and the UK.

Results: Worldwide, the top ten packaged food companies account for 15.2% of sales, with each individual company contributing less than 3.3%. The top ten soft drink companies account for 52.3% of sales worldwide; Coca-Cola and PepsiCo lead with 25.9% and 11.5% of sales, respectively.

Conclusions: Although the top ten soft drink companies account for half of global sales, the top ten packaged food companies account for only a small proportion of market share with most individual companies contributing less than 3.3% each. Major multinational companies need to be joined by the myriad of small- and medium-sized enterprises in developing and implementing programs to improve the health of the public, globally. Without full participation of these companies, the impact of commitments made by IFBA members and other major multinational food and beverage companies will remain limited.